As the central academic library of the Republic of Austria, the Austrian National Library looks back to a history rich in tradition going as far as the 14th century. It is a living bridge between the rich heritage of the past and the future-oriented demands of a modern information society.
The Austrian National Library regards itself as a centre of information and research oriented toward serving the public, as an outstanding national memory institution and as a multi-faceted centre of education and culture.
As a service-oriented information centre, the Austrian National Library offers its users access and professional advice on its own holdings (over 11.6 million objects) and also on international data pools. It also accepts commissions on scientific research, and operates documentation centres and service facilities, for example on literature specifically devoted to women’s studies. Since the beginning of the digital age, a steadily increasing number of services have been handled online via the website of the Austrian National Library.
As a result of the Austrian Media Act, the Austrian National Library is the only library in the country to receive copies of all publications appearing in Austria, including those from offline media and dissertations approved by Austrian universities, as per the Universities Act. At the same time, these obligatory items serve as the basis for publication of the Austrian Bibliography.
The Austrian National Library is also authorised to collect and archive Austrian web publications or web publications with an Austrian connection, and to make these available for use. Furthermore, the library systematically selects and collects literature specifically concerning Austria but published in other countries, and literature on the humanities with special attention paid to works that are relevant to its own Departments.
In its eight Departments, the Austrian National Library, heir to the Habsburg Court Library, conserves a significant part of the world’s documentary heritage, and feels a duty to continue preserving these. Of exceptional international importance are the holdings of antique, medieval, and modern manuscripts from the most varied cultural areas as well as music autographs, incunabula and old printed works, historic maps, portraits and other pictorial documents, posters, bookplates and broadsides, and, of no less importance, the literary estates of Austrian writers. Four museums belonging to the Library present to the public objects from the world’s biggest papyrus collection, a unique holding of historic globes, an impressive collection on the international language Esperanto and a comprehensive set of archives of Austrian literature. Since 2018, the Austrian National Library also runs the House of Austrian History as a museum devoted to recent historical events, with a special focus on Austrian history from 1918 onwards.
The baroque State Hall, constructed between 1723 and 1726 according to the plans of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, is regarded as one of the most impressive libraries in the world and is regularely used for special exhibitions.
All of the departments are places of lively scientific research in close contact with other scientific research institutes (sometimes on the basis of projects subsidised by the European Union). The condition here is the consistent formal processing of collection items that are constantly being added to. The gradual digitisation of the holdings represents a particular challenge.
A goal of the Austrian National Library is to open itself up to as broad a circle of interested persons as possible. To fulfil this, there are, among other things, regular exhibitions to raise awareness of the holdings and – partly in cooperation with other cultural and educational institutions – events such as readings, book presentations, symposia, and concerts. Together with these and other activities, the Austrian National Library not only fulfils its legal commission to educate, but also expresses its own chosen role as a faceted and multicultural centre of education and culture.
All employees of the Austrian National Library work to ensure tasks are completed quickly and properly. Professionally competent and pleasant treatment of our visitors from every part of the world is something we believe to be a matter of course. Visitors should be escorted through a fascinating library world in which an atmosphere steeped in history, modern library architecture, holdings that relate to past and present, library tradition and the use of modern technology form a vital symbiosis.
As one of Austria’s exceptional cultural institutions, the Austrian National Library strives to play a leading role in social issues too. As a result, the Austrian National Library is also committed to supporting women, seeing it as its particular responsibility and obligation to its staff to implement family-friendly measures to facilitate a work-family life balance.